Lanugo is the growth of fine, downy hair on the face and body of anorexics. It's a sign that the body's natural defenses are at work. Hypertrichosis refers to the amount or length of extra hair that is grown -- to the point of excessive.
At a certain point during the starvation process, some anorexics may start to notice some fine, white hair on their body. People may even call it "fur".
It's usually visible on the face first, but it can appear anywhere on the body, including the back. Extra thick hair is normally found on the legs.
In women and girls with anorexia, the hair tends appear in areas where there is typically very little hair growth, such as the face, chest and back areas.
Lanugo itself is not unhealthy or dangerous. In fact, it's perfectly normal to find it on newborn babies. The difference is, infants shed theirs within a few days after birth.
It is alarming to find this hair on adults, since it's one of the foremost symptoms of starvation -- usually anorexia. But again, the hair will not cause skin irritation, rashes, or hurt you in any way.
Actually, this "peach fuzz" is likely an adaptive attempt by the body to trap and retain heat when the insulating effect of body fat is missing. It's almost like a naturally-grown blanket that helps keep the anorexic warm.
Direct treatment for lanugo does not exist. This is basically because it's a symptom of something more severe. The best way to treat it is to try to cure the issue that's causing the excess hair growth in the first place.
This involves dealing with the eating disorder (anorexia) by way of psychotherapy, or inpatient treatment if needed. Nutritional counseling will most certainly be required as well.
There's also a chance that lanugo could be permanent. I know of several women with anorexia who have not been able to rid themselves of this unwanted hair, despite having gone through treatment for anorexia.
However, this would definitely be something to discuss with your doctor to see what options may be available to you.
Remember, lanugo doesn't just appear in cases of anorexia or eating disorders. Anyone who is severely malnourished, regardless of the cause, may notice the extra hair growth.
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